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Fascinated Unheard Story Of IAF’s The Knights Squadron

On 8th December 2021 Wednesday in Nilgiri Mountain, Southern Continent of India, The inconceivable incident which shook every Indian. The Wellington Helicopter Crash emerge in the sudden death of “CDS General Bipin Rawat, Mrs. Madhulika Rawat, Brigadier LS Lidder, Lt Col Harjinder Singh, L/Nk Vivek Kumar, L/Nk B Sai Teja, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Naik Gursewak Singh, Havaldar Satpal Rai, Wg Cdr PS Chauhan, Sqn Ldr K Singh, JWO Rana Pratap Das, JWO Pradeep A” and unfortunately death of Fighter Group Captain Varun Singh (Shaurya Chakra) on 15th December at The Command Hospital Air Force, Bangalore by Indian Air Force official statement.

As the Incident occurred, here is a glimpse of an unheard story about “The Knights, Squadron No 109 Helicopter Unit of Indian Air Force”. The 109 Unit was also the Cavalry who was given responsibility as designated for Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat Official visit to Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington.

The Knights is one of the oldest, most decorated, and most commended Helicopter Unit (HU) Squadron based on The Air Force Station (AFS) in Sulur at Coimbatore of Tamil Nadu.

The Knights was adjudged as the Best Helicopter Unit of the Indian Air Force for the year 1989. In recognition of their record of achievements. The Knights earned the President standard on 2 August 1991 in a ceremony held at No. 2 Wing AF at Lohegaon, Pune.

The Knights is Indian Air Force (IAF) No 109 Helicopter Unit (HU) Squadron based on Sulur Air Force Station (AFS) located at Sulur near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and It’s India’s second-largest airbase after Hindan AFS. Also, It is the base that is responsible for the security of India’s sea area. Here are the few fascinated unheard stories of The Knights.

Indian Air Force (IAF) Squadron No 109 Helicopter Unit (HU) called by nickname as Knights and motto Apatsu Mitram” to translate as “A friend in time of need” or “Friend in Distress”.

Raised On 26 August 1961, the Units moved from Chandigarh to Jammu in 1967 and again moved to Sulur on 4 June 1987. The Knights are Squadron of Indian Air Force which equipped with MI series of Rotary wing aircraft (rotorcraft or helicopter) based on Sulur Air Force Station (AFS) which is currently part of the Southern Air Command of Indian Air Force.

Crest: A tri-bladed rotary on the backdrop of the Himalayan mountains.

History of the Knights

Since the raising of Knights, they are involved in almost all major military operations of the Indian Armed Force.

  • Liberation Of Goa (17–19 December 1961)
  • Flying support of Indian Army in 1962 Conflict with China.
  • Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) from 1987-1990 operation against the LTTE (The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Tamil Tigers) in Sri Lanka.
  • India-Pakistan War (Second Kashmir War) 1965
  • India-Pakistan War (Bangladesh Libration War) 1971
  • Siachen Glacier Conflict, 1984
  • Bhopal Gas Disaster, 1984
  • OP Falcon, 1986 Chinese intrusion in north-eastern parts of India
  • OP Checkmate in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka (August 1988)
  • OP Cactus, November 1988 (Maldives coup)
  • OP Checkmate in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka (August 1988)
  • South India floods, 2015
  • Iron Fist Exercise 2013, 2016
  • Aero India Show.

During the 1963-1965 conflict period, the unit deployed in multiple roles, among other things. The tasks of flying for the BRO (Border Roads Development) for the new construction of mountain roads within the difficult terrain of the North-Eastern side of India.

In the 1st week of December 1971 India-Pakistan War, The Knights were the primary to land at Jaurian and remove the primary batch of casualties of war. The squadron flew a complete 315 hours during the Ops, and lifted out a completed of 468 casualties directly from the battle zones, under enemy fire from East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh).

In 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy occurred as a result of an all-consuming gas leak, the Knights was called upon to provides relief supports.

In 1986, India-Tibetan border side Chinese started intrusion. The Knights 109 HU took part in ‘OP Falcon’ under difficult conditions of such terrain and weather, streamlining the operation and giving the impetus to sustain to support the army.

In 1991-1998 period, the unit was meted out multiple roles involving organization, support, SAR(Search and Rescue), SHBO (Special Heliborne Operations) and Air-Sea Search and rescue training, also cyclone relief at Vijayawada and Nellore, flood relief at Trivandrum, and earthquake relief operations at Nellore. The unit also been trained commandos and other infantry units of the Indian army in slithering and took part in various exercises.

Role Of The Knights

  • Electronic Warfare (EW)
  • Military Transport (Logistic and Personnel)
  • Reconnaissance (Recon)
  • Casualty Evacuation (CasEvac)
  • Medical Evacuation (MedEvac)
  • Close Air Support (CAS)
  • Operation Checkmate, 1988

Arsenal of the Knights

The Knights were raised on August 26, 1961, equipped with Mi series Soviet helicopter. At starting, it had been equipped with Mi 4s, later converted to Mi 8s in 1974, which were further replaced by Mi-17s in 2016.

Mi-17 V5 is an upgrade of Mi-17 in the medium-lift category helicopter, which is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and onboard Navigation Systems. It also has a variant with a glass cockpit, the first type to be included in the IAF. It has been integrated with onboard weather radar, autopilot, and is compatible with the latest generation (Gen III) ​​NVG (Night Vision Goggles). With all the equipment, the helicopter can undertake All-Weather, Gear, And Amp. The helicopter is also equipped with a Bambi Bucket that can be used for fire fighting Operations as specifically needed in the North-Eastern Side of India. It is also equipped with a powerful winch, a useful feature in disaster relief operations in tight areas where landing is not possible.


The Currently “The Knights” Operate with MI-17 V5 series of Helicopters which is one in all the foremost advance and reputed in The world.

The Knights Unit Conferred with Vir Chakra: 4, Shaurya Chakra: 1, Vayu Sena Medal: 15.

If you want to know about How Helicopter works and their avionics performance, have a look into the blog by an officer and aviator from the Indian Armed Force and also a Test Pilot KP Sanjeev Kumar.

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